If college is an investment, students should have some idea what they’ll earn with a degree in nursing or marketing or whatever from College X vs. College Y, writes Daniel de Vise in College, Inc. Soon more information will be available about post-college employment.
Especially as college continues to get more expensive, students rightfully want to make sure that that their investment has value. They’re asking: What are the chances I’m going to get a job earning a decent wage? And if I’m choosing between two or three schools as a prospective student, which will give me the biggest bang for my (and my family’s) buck?
The Labor Department is working with the states to share data on earnings and employment. In addition, the Education Department will be releasing “gainful employment” reports on how for-profit and community colleges’ vocational certificate earners are doing in the workforce.
“If these reports show wide disparities among graduates from different colleges, can it be long before the same data are demanded for all bachelors’ degree programs?” asks de Vise.
The drive to raise graduation rates doesn’t address degree quality, he points out. For most students — and especially those from low-income and working-class families — it’s important to earn a credential that puts them “on a path to earning a decent living.”
If students understood college costs and potential earnings, they’d be wary of enrolling in a high-cost for-profit college, especially for a bachelor’s degree program. They’d also avoid high-cost private colleges that don’t offer a lot of financial aid and an elite degree.
In Student Loans Weighing Down a Generation With Heavy Debt, the New York Times introduces a debt-doomed borrower: Kelsey Griffith, 23, borrowed $120,000 to earn a marketing degree from Ohio Northern University. She’s working two restaurant jobs and will move in with her parents while looking for a marketing job.
Her father, a paramedic, and mother, a preschool teacher, have modest incomes, and she has four sisters. But when she visited Ohio Northern, she was won over by faculty and admissions staff members who urge students to pursue their dreams rather than obsess on the sticker price.
“As an 18-year-old, it sounded like a good fit to me, and the school really sold it,” said Ms. Griffith, a marketing major. “I knew a private school would cost a lot of money. But when I graduate, I’m going to owe like $900 a month. No one told me that.”
Ninety-four percent of students who earn a bachelor’s degree borrow to pay for higher education — up from 45 percent in 1993, according to a Times analysis of Department of Education data. This includes federal and private loans.
“Pursue your dreams” — but don’t do the math — is a cruel hoax being played on 18-year-olds and their financially naive parents.